Managing Anxiety – Who can help?

Managing Anxiety – Who can help?

So you think that you or a loved one is suffering because of anxiety. Anxiety Canada’s website ( has a wealth of evidence-based self-help resources. But where do you turn if this is not enough? Who can help?

General Practitioners (GPs): Your GP or family physician can help determine whether your symptoms are due to anxiety, another health problem, or both. Your physician may monitor your symptoms, prescribe medication to help you, or refer you to a mental health professional or program that will be covered by the Medical Services Plan of BC. Unfortunately, wait times to see a mental health professional or to enter a public program tend to be long. Your physician may know of good private clinics or mental health professionals that have helped other patients.

If you do not have a GP, this is the time to find one. Ask family or friends for a recommendation. Inquire at clinics near your home and/or office to see who is accepting new patients. 

Mental Health Professionals: Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Counsellors are the most common types of professionals who provide help to people with anxiety. Of these professionals, only psychiatrists can prescribe medications. Ask your physician to direct you to the type of professional that will be best suited to helping you. Health professionals have different training, credentials, licenses, and experience. Some people who claim to treat anxiety are not well-trained professionals in the mental health field. Check whether practitioners have a license to practice, training in evidence-based treatment (treatments scientific research shows are helpful), and experience treating anxiety.

More severe anxiety problems often require the services of a psychiatrist and/or a psychologist whereas a counsellor can often help with less severe problems. Psychiatrists require a referral from a physician and are covered by MSP. You can self-refer to most psychologists and counsellors; however, you will generally have to pay out of pocket for their services. For more information on the difference between psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors, visit:

If you have extended health insurance or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), contact them to find out what types of or specific mental health providers they will cover as coverage varies. Most EAP providers will give you a list of names and you will have to choose one of them. Your insurance provider may only reimburse you for therapy by certain types of registered mental health providers and only up to a maximum dollar amount. It is best to check with them directly.

If you find you are having difficulty managing your anxiety on your own – you are not alone. Many people require and benefit from professional care.

By Dr. Melanie Badali, R.Psych. Dr. Melanie Badali is a Registered Psychologist who is CACBT-ACTCC-Certified in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. For additional information, please visit: